Sometimes two press releases land in the wrong order. Second things first.

The ROH is, very commendably, making cheap tickets available to the elderly and infirm of Westminster who cannot afford £200 seats on their £100 pension. It’s a terrific initiative and I hope other houses take heed and copy (they copy most other things, so why not this?).

Earlier in the day, the ROH announced even more exciting tidings (via the intermezzo blog), timed to coincide with Placido Domingo’s touchdown in London today after his heroic efforts to open the new opera house in Oman and entertain the good folk of Croatia.

In an airport lounge along the way, PD must have remembered that it’s 40 years since he first sang at Covent Garden. Let’s have a gala, then. Opera for oldies, authentic as it comes. invite everyone who was there in 1971, what do you say?

Er, no. This time tickets are £225 and no freebies for pensioners. Ah well, I guess charity begins somewhere else…


Oh wait, here’s Placido with one of his favourite mega-oldies, a state pensioner if ever I saw one.

Immediate release




Covent Garden-based charity Contact the Elderly – which tackles social isolation among the elderly – is delighted to have received tickets for ballet and opera performances for the older people it supports, courtesy of the Royal Opera House.


An outing took place over the weekend (Saturday 22nd October) when 20 older people, many well into their 80’s and 90’s, and their volunteer drivers, enjoyed an exciting performance of The Royal Ballet’s The Sleeping Beauty. In September, the Royal Opera House also invited a group of older guests to see a performance of the Royal Opera’s Faust.


In addition, the Royal Opera House has extended its generosity to further performances, enabling Contact the Elderly to take more older people to future performances of The Royal Ballet’s The Nutcracker and The Royal Opera’s La Traviata.


Contact the Elderly’s London Executive Officer, Cliff Rich, said: “We are thrilled to be working with the Royal Opera House to look at ways that older people over the age of 75 – who may once have had an interest in the arts, or who would like to experience a very special trip for the first time – can enjoy the opera and ballet at this time in their lives.


“The charity is committed to offering a lifeline of friendship to the oldest and loneliest people in the local area, and indeed London as a whole, and that is exactly what the Royal Opera House is helping us to achieve by offering us tickets to these four performances. The older guests were delighted to spend the afternoon in the company of others, while being treated to a fantastic ballet performance.”

Royal Opera House staff were there to meet and greet the older guests, who had access to a private bar area with tea, coffee and cakes, before the show started and during the interval.

Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide a great afternoon at the Opera House for older people facing isolation in their later years. Through the generous support of our sponsors, The Robert Gavron Charitable Trust, those who visited the Royal Opera House for The Sleeping Beauty were thrilled to be able to see world-class ballet from some of the best seats in the house. We are excited about being able to repeat the experience for two other productions this season and we are very grateful to the important work of Contact the Elderly in helping us to facilitate these days out.”

Contact the Elderly helps to alleviate acute loneliness by organising free, monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people within local communities. The charity recruits volunteer hosts and drivers to help arrange the social gatherings. In London alone there are over 75 groups, comprising over 640 older guests and almost 1,200 volunteers.


While other local services may be under the threat of cutback, Contact the Elderly is not only keeping existing groups open, but is actively looking to open new groups in the capital, to support even more older people. Over the course of the next year, Contact the Elderly plans to open 16 new groups in London, enabling the charity to support an additional 150 lonely older people living in the capital.


If anyone would like to volunteer to drive one or two local older people one Sunday afternoon a month to a tea party, or host 2 tea parties a year, then please do get in touch on: freephone 0800 716543 or




Notes to editors:


For further media information, please contact Kellie Smith, Communications Officer at Contact the Elderly on 020 7420 5814 or

The editor of Gramophone has resigned.

That’s a pity, because James Inverne greatly brightened up the old rag and reclaimed a good deal of independence from the record business. There was a time when major labels got prior approval of reviews that appeared in Gramophone. That, I understand, is no longer the case. Gramophone’s integrity has been restored.

James apparently wants to do other things with his life. You can read the press release below.

More alarming is the continued practice at the US classical record magazine Fanfare of offering reviews for cash. Here’s how it works. When Fanfare receives a copy of your CD, it asks you to take an advert ‘at special rates’. The bigger the ad, the larger the coverage. No ad, no guaranteed review. Simple as that.

The most shocking thing? That many artists and labels accept these terms and conditions.

The terms are stated baldly in a pro forma letter to a composer friend of mine. I have deleted his name. The rest is verbatim. read it, and fume.


Dear Mr. X: 
Would you like your new CD to be reviewed in Fanfare?  And would you also like to be interviewed by America’s premier classical CD review magazine (including exposure for four months in the magazine and at our Web site)? Read on!
I will soon receive a review copy of your new CD. Please consider advertising it in the magazine and evaluating the following interview proposal – your support will be much appreciated. 
As you may already know, Fanfare, The Magazine for Serious Record Collectors, now in its 35th year, is regarded by many as the world’s finest and most respected publication devoted to coverage of new classical releases. (Skeptical? Just go to and read any of the sample reviews from the latest edition.) Each issue is about 500 pages long and contains reviews of  400 – 500 CDs, SACDs, and DVDs. If you’re interested, I’ll mail you a complimentary copy of a recent issue and/or give you temporary access to our on-line edition, including the Fanfare Archive, which contains all of the reviews and interviews from the current issue as well as all of the articles from dozens of previous issues.
Here are your special display-ad rates (ad specs can be found below this message):
Inside front cover $1500 (net)
Full page color $1000
1/2 page color $700
1/4 page color $500
If you advertise, I will personally guarantee that your CD will be reviewed. I will also guarantee that your ad will appear not only in the magazine but also free of charge on our Web site at Please take some time to explore “Our Advertisers” at the top of the home page and “Fanfare Advertisers” at the bottom, which provide links to the advertisers’ sites. And then click any review on the home page, and you’ll find the rest of the review on the next page plus an ad from the current issue. The bottom lines: Our Web site is friendly to our advertisers, and note the number of performers and composers participating with links to their sites.
Why else should you advertise? Because, as our subtitle suggests, we cater to a very specialized clientele of extremely sophisticated collectors. These music lovers don’t buy a few CDs every month, they buy thousands – and I’m sure that you’d like yours to be among them. We can help you reach these collectors.
Never advertised before? We can also help you with that by recommending an excellent graphics company that’s also very reasonable.
But we can do more. If you advertise at one of the four levels listed below, I’ll assign you to an interviewer, carefully chosen to match your interests, for a feature story. Our interviewers go far beyond the puff pieces common today; our typical interview runs about 2,500 words. How many times have you had the opportunity to talk about what you do with someone who truly understands your problems and issues? And, best of all, you’ll be able to use the interview and review almost as soon as they’ve been submitted and edited – you can quote as much as you like, even before they appear!
Here are the four options for advertising if you’d like to be interviewed (and have your CD reviewed):
1) Inside front cover ad or inside back cover ad in two consecutive issues (total cost $3000). (All of the inside front and inside back covers for 2011 and the Jan/Feb 2012 inside front cover have been reserved.)
2) Inside front cover ad or inside back cover ad and full page color ad in two consecutive issues (total cost $2500). (All of the inside front and inside back covers for 2011 and the Jan/Feb 2012 inside front cover have been reserved.)
3) Full page color ad in two consecutive issues, or a two-page spread in a single issue (total cost $2000).
4) Full page color ad and 1/2 page color ad in two consecutive issues (total cost $1700).*
When you’re interviewed, the review of your CD will be attached to your feature in the front of the edition instead of being published in the regular classical CD review section of the issue.
The editorial deadline for the Nov/Dec issue is Aug. 1. Advertising for that issue should be reserved by Sept. 1 with graphics due Sept. 8. The editorial deadline for the Jan/Feb issue is Oct. 1. Advertising for that issue should be reserved by Nov. 1 with graphics due Nov. 8.
If you decide to accept the proposal, I won’t proceed with any aspect of it unless I find a critic who’s receptive to your CD.  Please let me know if you’d like to make your artistry known to a special audience.
Joel Flegler
P.O.Box 17, or
17 Lancaster Rd.
Tenafly, NJ 07670
*Ask about the various payment options for installment plans. Fanfare also has low charges for premium positions from pp. 1- 25.




James Inverne steps down as Gramophone editor, becomes contributing editor


After nearly six years as editor of Gramophone, the world’s most authoritative classical music magazine, James Inverne has decided to relinquish the role.


“Having just completed an exciting redesign of the magazine, to be unveiled in the forthcoming November issue, the time felt right for me to move on,” said Inverne, who will retain links with the magazine as contributing editor.


“Six years is a long time for an editorship, and having come from a journalistic background where I worked across the arts, I feel a drive to once again broaden my horizons. I’ve also missed writing more than being editor allows time for. With Gramophone in fine shape I am confident it is well-positioned for a wonderful future.”


During his tenure, Inverne has won two major awards and has helped to guide on- and offline development of the Gramophone brand that has included redesigning the magazine, and the launch of an online audio/visual player.


Gramophone’s publisher Kate Law comments, “James will be missed and has been a great asset for Gramophone. But we understand that after six years he wants to move in new directions and we wish him the very best as he does so. He leaves Gramophone healthy and vibrant for whoever succeeds him as editor.”


Editor in Chief, James Jolly comments, “James’ eye for what makes for a great story made a real impact on Gramophone. His tireless work in promoting the magazine in the media ensured that Gramophone reached an ever wider public and retained its position as the most influential magazine in the classical world. All the staff at the magazine wish him every success and look forward to his future contributions to Gramophone.”


A new Gramophone editor will be announced in the coming weeks.


Gramophone is an incredible brand to publish,” said Law. “It has a fantastic heritage, and a profoundly knowledgeable team. I’m proud of the way that it is successfully expanding onto new platforms, and in doing so attracting new audiences worldwide. The new editor will be in an excellent place to capitalise on those strengths.”


The redesigned Gramophone magazine is on sale from 2 November.


James Jolly continues in his role as Editor in Chief. Editorial queries relating to Gramophone should be directed to (Acting Editor) Martin Cullingford at




The wheels of justice grind slowly in Austria, but the prosecutor in the case of the missing millions at the Salzburg Easter Festival has finally decided that there is a case to answer by two former managers.

If the Justice Department agrees, charges will be brought against Michael Dewitte, 45, the festival’s former managing director, and Klaus Kretschmer, 51, his technical director.  Both will face sample charges for mishandling 675,000 Euros, rather than the full amount. They are alleged to have ‘diverted’ donations to the festival, though no recipient has been specified.

Dewitte’s location is unknown. He is thought to be in Belgium. Kretschmer was discovered beneath a bridge in February 2010, after an apparent suicide attempt. He is said to be fit to face trial. Here’s the Salzburg Nachrichten report.

Discovery of the shortfall produced a financial crisis at the festival, founded by Herbert von Karajan 40 years ago and still supervised by his widow Eliette (below). A former EMI record executive, Peter Alward, was appointed to stabilise the event.